Diacousticon is, at one level, a system for machine listening and improvisational performance. Equipped with a full complement of microphones, loudspeakers, and simple robotic musical instruments, distributed in 360 degrees around the dovecote atop Caramoor’s Sense Circle fountain, Diacousticon is capable of both listening to its surroundings and generating sonic responses to what it hears.
Diacousticon is also a platform for experimentation. Several different algorithms will be deployed to govern its decisions and behaviors, which will range from the poetic to the animalistic, from lyrical to game-like, and from subtle to frantic. Each of these algorithms is, in essence, a composition that becomes realized in the interaction between the piece and its surroundings, according to the rules adopted. Information about the results of each algorithm will be collected over the course of the exhibition and periodically used to enact further refinements.
Finally, Diacousticon takes into account a post-Edward Snowden reality, which must embrace the interchangeability of “interaction” and “surveillance.” We can no longer assume that the actions of any technological system — even an artwork — that is listening and attempting to comprehend its surroundings are benign. Aspects of Diacousticon’s behavior may emerge which call into question its purpose and its relationship to its environment.
— Stephan Moore
Sound artist Stephan Moore has been working at the forefront of the contemporary experimental audioworld for the past 15 years as a curator, improviser, composer, programmer, theatrical sound designer, loudspeaker builder, radio technician, installation artist, live sound engineer, and teacher. Based in Providence, RI, he is a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University in the Multimedia and Electronic Music Experiments program. He is presently the vice-president of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology.
His creative work currently manifests as electronic studio compositions, improvised solo performances, sound installation works, sound designs and scores for modern dance and theater performances, audio software, and the design of multi-channel sound systems for unusual circumstances. He develops his own performance software and builds Hemisphere loudspeakers for use in his own performances and sound installation work, which he also makes available through his company Isobel Audio. Significant ongoing collaborations include the Xenolinguistics performance project with visionary video artist Diana Reed Slattery, numerous scores and designs for the choreographer Yanira Castro, sound and technical design for the Nerve Tank theater collective, and the electronic music duo Evidence with sound artist Scott Smallwood.
From 2006 to 2012 he served as a curator of ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn and as a founding member of their artistic advisory board. Most notably, he curated the month-long Floating Points Festivals there from 2006 to 2010, which made use of a large array of his Hemisphere speakers. His other curatorial activities have included the 2010 Mixology Festival at Roulette Intermedium and the Experiments in the Studio concert series at the Merce Cunningham Studios (2007–2009).
From 2004 to 2010 Moore was the Music Coordinator of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, where he worked and often performed with composers such as Gavin Bryars, John Paul Jones, Sigur Ros, Sonic Youth, Christian Wolff, David Behrman, Annea Lockwood, John King, Emanuel Pimenta, Mikel Rouse, and Takehisa Kosugi to realize full productions of their scores. He also oversaw the performances of several works by John Cage, David Tudor, Brian Eno, Radiohead, and others. In 2010 he collaborated with Animal Collective to create Transverse Temporal Gyrus, a 40-channel sound installation at the Guggenheim Museum with visual elements by Danny Perez. He later created both a downloadable version of the piece, which is algorithmically generated at each playing, and artwork for the limited-edition vinyl release. Other recent notable projects include: audio programming for artist Anthony McCall’s Traveling Wave; a tool for flexible sound distribution for artist Toni Dove’s Lucid Possession; and technical consultation for the organizations EarFilms, Tellart, and Boston’s Constellation Center.